Carpenter: Crist cannot be only answer

It’s not Dayne Crist’s fault he’s not Tom Brady, the three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

It’s Charlie Weis’ fault for not realizing the difference.

Weis, who talked all offseason about the changes he’s made since his mostly failed tenure at Notre Dame, has spent the first three weeks of the season trying to show everyone he’s found another great player under center.

Crist has gone from overwhelmed to average in three games, throwing just two touchdown passes to go with his four interceptions. His receivers haven’t done him any favors either, running routes like they told the defense the play call before the snap and dropping passes you’d expect to be caught in the Pop Warner league.

Weis has depended on Crist and the passing game as if the Kansas running attack can’t be trusted, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Led by junior running back Taylor Cox and sophomore running back Tony Pierson, the Jayhawks are averaging 4.9 yards per rush. That number isn’t inflated from the week one victory over lower-level South Dakota State, either. Last Saturday against TCU, Cox and Pierson averaged 4.1 yards per attempt.

They were handed the ball just 20 times in a game Kansas lost, 20-6.

In the second half Kansas began down 10-6 with the ball. Weis called for a run seven times as TCU ate up the clock on methodical drives that Weis and company apparently disdained. Whatever pressure TCU felt to win its Big 12 opener against the conference’s worst team would have been amplified every minute of the second half that Kansas hung around and ate up the clock.

Weis seemed more interested in showing off Crist’s arm strength in a gun-slinging second-half comeback. He just forgot that he doesn’t have Notre Dame talent at Kansas. His receivers are short with questionable hands, and his quarterback hasn’t played since last October when he was benched.

What Weis does have are running backs and a defense that could benefit from spending as much time on the sidelines as possible.

Three-and-outs don’t accomplish that; they only give Weis an opportunity to prove he found a diamond in the rough with Crist. When that backfires, the real hope for Kansas victories idly watch as the passing game screws something else up.

Weis said he changed a lot between his time at Notre Dame and being hired at Kansas last winter. There won’t be a better time to see if that’s true than Saturday at Northern Illinois. The Huskies gave up 486 rushing yards to Army last weekend.

In its first road test of the season and looking for its first road victory in over three calendar years, Kansas could benefit from a game with limited possessions while they control the game on the ground.

It remains to be seen if Weis will trust the running backs over Crist.

— Edited by Ryan McCarthy

  • Updated Sep. 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm